Coffee Facts & Science

Espresso Explained Simply

It seems the world has trouble understanding how Espresso differentiates from regular coffee: I'm here to solve this problem.  First off, let me clarify; it's Espresso, not Expresso. There is simply no "X" in Espresso.

It seems the world has trouble understanding how Espresso differentiates from regular coffee: I’m here to solve this problem.

First off, let me clarify; it’s Espresso, not Expresso. There is simply no “X” in Espresso.

Now that we have that cleared up; let’s begin.

Espresso Beans are No Different Than Coffee Beans:

This is shocking, however, absolutely true. Espresso beans are not any different than simply regular coffee beans. You can use any coffee bean to make Espresso; it’s entirely based off preference. In the U.S. people further west tend to use darker roasted beans such as a  french roast to make espresso with, however, the further east you get the more people use lighter roasted beans to make espresso. You will also find in places like Italy, the preferred roast would be a medium roast for the beans used to make espresso. You may notice that Starbucks just came out with a “Blonde Espresso Roast” which is simply a light roast espresso; this is actually something pretty common around the world that Starbucks has dubbed ‘unconventional’.

How Espresso is Made:

Espresso is simply a 1 to 2 oz. shot of coffee brewed with really intense pressure to create a very strong coffee. A small amount of water is forced through a large amount of coffee grounds that is tamped really firm so that the water has to essentially ‘work’ it’s way through the grounds. The extra force it takes for the coffee to move through the water results in a larger amount of flavor extraction when compared to a typical weaker cup of traditional coffee.

A great (and affordable) way of making espresso at home is with an AeroPress. Check out our Aeropress Guide to see whether or not getting one is right for you!

Espresso Comes In Different Parts

The Crema: ‘The top layer’. On top of a shot of espresso is a thin golden-brown layer known as “Crema” made up of sugars, proteins, and vegetable oils. This layer holds the most aromatic qualities and flavor.

The Body: ‘The middle layer’. Beneath the crema is “the body” which should be a caramel-brownish color holding more bitter qualities of the espresso.

The Heart: ‘The bottom layer’. This should be a deep, rich, brown color. This layer holds the most bitter qualities that work well to balance the sweetness of the crema.


(Pictured Above: Business man texting all his friends that he is drinking the crema, body, and heart of espresso in his tiny cup)

Side Tip: Never neglect the fact that water temperature, grinding, and roast profile all make a significant impact on the flavor and outcome of the espresso.

A Double-shot of Espresso Is Less Caffeine Than a Cup of Coffee

Shocker…but accurate. A typical double shot of espresso has 80 mg of caffeine while a typical cup of coffee has 120 mg of caffeine. When you have a latte, cappuccino, americano, espresso etc. you are actually intaking significantly less caffeine compared to a regular cup of coffee.

Since espresso is very concentrated there of course is way more caffeine in each ounce, however, there are only 2 oz compared to a 12 oz cup of coffee which makes drinking a cup of coffee higher in caffeine levels.

I hope you have learned something here.

Hey, we started our own coffee roasting company!
Check us out -> Short Sleeves Coffee Co.

17 comments on “Espresso Explained Simply

  1. So very interesting! The thing about the caffeine content was unexpected! 🙂

  2. Excellent post, and very helpful! Now my choices at the coffee shop are gonna have to change.

    • Glad it was helpful! How does this effect your coffee shop choices?!? More espresso drinks?

      • I guess I need to stop ordering that americano…sounds like just a regular cup of coffee would be a better choice.

        • Yes I agree–watered down coffee isn’t my favorite choice! Plus regular coffee is gonna get you more caffeine! Happy coffee drinking!

          • I always wondered why to barista at the shop finished the making the cup of coffee with water…talk about annoying! But I didn’t know any better. Here’s to better sipping in the future!

            • Yea, haha..exactly! Glad you know now! Hopefully I will be able to help you learn even more things in the future–that’s my goal with this site! Cheers to better sipping!

  3. Great article! I am Indian, so I drink what is known as filter coffee, which has more caffeine since robusta beans are used more. Otherwise, outside, my go to coffee is often an espresso shot. My friends think I am suicidal since I like such strong coffee. Wish they understood how it is just about appreciating a good cup of pure bliss.

    • You are exactly right. I love a simple shot of espresso…You just can’t get that kind of taste with anything else. Thanks for reading!


    I am going to share this on my blog. Great article!

  5. Pingback: Espresso Explained Simply — Coffee Made Better - Coffee with Kinser

  6. Wow super interesting thank you. We are bug fans of espressos here and invested in a real espresso machine. We had to try many coffees before finding the right one

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  8. Pingback: Espresso Fixes Everything | Double Entendre

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